Michael L. Bleeker, DMD Dental Anxiety Scottsdale Prosthodontist Offers IV Sedation Dentistry
Dental Anxiety and Fear
Fear of the dentist is not uncommon. According to the National Institutes of Health, about a third of all adults have some level of dental anxiety, and in about 12% of the population, this anxiety is severe enough to keep sufferers from getting the dental care they need. At our Scottsdale, Arizona, dental clinic, we understand patients’ dental anxieties and we work hard to make sure they are comfortable when they come to our dentist office.
The Root of Dental Anxiety
According to NIH, the causes of dental anxiety are many. A common one is a bad experience a patient has had with a previous dentist. Another is hearing about bad experiences others have had with dentists. And lastly, some people simply have higher levels of anxiety than others, regardless of bad experiences.
If your anxiety is due to a bad experience — one you had or one someone else had — you may be able to overcome your dental anxiety by having good experiences at the dentist. For instance, if you are afraid of dogs because you were once bitten by a dog, if you are later in the company of dogs and are not bitten, you may be able to overcome your fear. Going to the dentist when you feel anxiety is a type of exposure therapy, which can result in your fears of the dentist evaporating and being replaced by good memories of going to the dentist office.
How We Treat Dental Anxiety
Patients who are anxious often begin to feel anxious before they even come to their dentist appointment. In these cases, our dentist may prescribe a sedative such as Valium to help relax the patient (in these cases, the patient will need to be driven to and from the dentist by someone else). Valium is helpful because you remain conscious and cognizant, so you are able to remember your dentist appointment, but you are relaxed. This helps you replace bad experiences with good ones.
Some patients who have a fear of needles can be helped by receiving nitrous oxide (laughing gas) before getting their injection of numbing anesthetic. Nitrous oxide dulls pain, reduces anxiety and promotes feelings of happiness and well-being. It lasts only as long as you are inhaling it, so you can drive to and from your appointment.
For the most severe cases of dental phobia, our dentist uses sedation dentistry, which is delivered via an IV. Over the years, IV sedation has been associated with unconsciousness and being “asleep,” which is rarely done today. Although the patient will probably remember nothing of the procedure, they are nonetheless usually awake and conscious.
When you have sedation dentistry, you will need someone to drive you home after.
Because patients who get sedation dentistry do not remember their procedure, there is less of a chance that their dental anxiety will recede from having had it done. However, what is most important is that the patient receives the dental care they need, whether that is a filling, crown, root canal, wisdom tooth extraction, bone graft, dental implant, veneers placement or another procedure. Even teeth whitening can be uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking.
If you have dental anxiety, make an appointment today at our Scottsdale, Arizona, dental clinic. We will consult with you on a plan to treat your dental phobia so that you can get the treatment you need.